Denton’s special character and values as a creative, conscious community make it a great place to study, live, work, play, raise children, and retire. But without a well thought through plan, piecemeal development can steamroll that character away and turn us into just another northern metroplex suburb.

Paul feels we need to build on what makes Denton special so over time we become better, not just bigger. That starts with quality of life–neighborhoods where kids can walk safely on sidewalks to schools, sidewalks that are well-lit so adults can walk safely home at night. That means ensuring excellent tree canopy, and green space with connecting trails. And it means that, if we face the worst air quality in Texas, we respond with the most innovative air quality protections.

Smart growth also means we don’t run to throw incentives at generic malls that add nothing new or different. We seek out developers that want to fit into and contribute to our unique city. Let’s encourage the downtown developers that want to include arts and performance venues, and a percentage of affordable housing among their units. Let’s encourage the small businesses in targeted areas that can turn a distant neighborhood into a walkable village. Let’s find the innovators who want to transform our forgotten old industrial spaces.

And where we have the space and opportunity to encourage large distribution centers and headquarters locations, let’s ask “How will your company distinctively add to the good qualities of Denton?” Will you be sustainable in an innovative way we can point to with pride? Will you fund (and enjoy naming rights) for, say, a shelter and encourage your employees to volunteer there? Will you allow your warehouse rooftop to be part of our municipal solar farm?

Being part of a community with a real identity is a great privilege. Let’s encourage those who value it.